- Feast of the Transfiguration, 6 August. The feast falls this year on a Sunday. Transfiguration is one of three feasts that takes precedence over a Sunday. The feast commemorates the time when Jesus was transfigured before Peter, James and John; when His glory was revealed and God the Father commanded, “This is my beloved Son ... listen to him” (Mt. 17.1-8; Mk. 9.2-8; Lk. 9.29-35). The figure of the transfigured Jesus is a foreshadowing of the risen and ascended Lord, of Jesus in His glory. Peter, James and John see Him as He really is, and not with His glory veiled. This reminds us that as we are created in the “image and likeness of God” (Gen 1.26-28), we too will rise one day in glory.
Transfiguration was not adopted on the Western calendar until the very eve of the Reformation, and so was not included in the Prayer Book calendar. In the 1892 revision to the American Book of Common Prayer this feast was included, and from this revision the observance has spread to all Anglican provinces.
- Feast of the Assumption (St. Mary the Virgin) (15 August): We will offer our devotions at a 6 p.m. Solemn Mass to the human being closest to our Lord, and the tradition that at her death Mary was assumed into heaven.
- St. Bartholomew the Apostle, (24 August): We know very little about Bartholomew (“son of Tolmai”). He is always mentioned in connection with Philip, who brought him to Jesus. Tradition teaches that he preached and was martyred in Asia Minor. His feast is perhaps better remembered for the massacre in 1572, in which mob violence led to the deaths of thousands of French Huguenots.
Those are the major feasts, but let’s not forget the many other commemorations in August, including Joseph of Arimathea (1 Aug.) Joseph recovered Jesus’ body from the cross, and provided Our Lord with a tomb (as attested in all four gospels). He was assisted by Nicodemus (3 August). St. Jean-Baptiste Vianney (the “Curé d’Ars”, d. 1859, feast 4 August), was a simple parish priest who became a notable confessor, and was instrumental in a revival of piety in France. The Curé d’Ars is a patron of parish clergy. His image is in a window in our chapel of Christ the King.
Many other August saints are worthy of mention, including St. Dominic (founder of the Dominican order, and the originator of the Rosary), Clare of Assisi, Bl. Jeremy Taylor, St. Bernard of Clairvaux, St. Augustine of Hippo, and our own Bl. Charles Grafton. The second bishop of Fond du Lac, Charles Grafton, was a leading figure in the revival of sacramental devotion and catholic worship in The Episcopal Church. His feast is on 30 August.
On 7 August Bl. John Mason Neale is remembered. Neale (d. 1866) was responsible for a revival of Eucharistic devotion in the Church of England, as a leader in Ritualist Movement of which Grace Episcopal Church is an heir. Neale is also responsible for more hymns in our hymnal than any other translator or author. We explore a couple of these hymns in “Oh for a Thousand Tongues,” on p. __ of this newsletter..
Finally, with the football kick-off imminent, let’s not forget Laurence the Deacon (d. 258). Laurence was roasted to death on an iron grate, and so modern wags consider him to be the patron of football (because a “gridiron” was the instrument of his martyrdom). All levity aside, Laurence is patron of deacons. As a deacon in Rome, he was offered his freedom by the prefect if he would deliver to the government with “riches” of the Church. Laurence produced the poor people cared for by the Church, declaring them to be her riches. The prefect was not amused; hence the grisly nature of the execution